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Be yourself. Take Control. Have fun!

My dear reader. As you may have noticed we are living in an extremely interesting time. Things are changing so fast that every year may count numerous defining moments for our future. Alot of the future depends on you, whoever you may be. This article is for you, a person who just wants to live a good life and occassionaly have some fun. You need to be given an opportunity to prove yourself and freedom to be yourself. I am sure you have certain passions in your life and I am almost sure that whatever this passion is, it involves a certain amount of creativity. Every person is a potential creator. Every person is driven to create not only for profit, but for fun and for fullfillment. Every person needs to communicate in order to learn or teach, make friends or enemies, inspire or get inspired. Many ambitions require cooperation and to cooperate you need to communicate.

A world we are living in is increasingly affected by digital technology and the internet. In its most basic form, internet is about communication. This communication allows for cooperation between anybody who is connected, no matter who you are, where you are or what you want to acomplish. You are making use of this network. If you weren't you probably would not be reading this article. You use this network to communicate with others in which case you probably share some thoughts, ideas and inspirations. Don't be so hard on yourself to think that you have not inspired anyone yet. Odds are that you have, in some way, affected someone over this network and just as much the odds are that you have been affected by someone else. There are alot of ways people can affect each other, from mere talking to creating works of culture that inspire. Music is one of the more obvious types of these works. How do you obtain your music? Again, the odds are that you have at least a few times downloaded music for free, wether that was legal or illegal. You've probably bought a few CDs as well, but you likely ripped it and put it on your computer, even shared with family and friends. Why wouldn't you? You payed for it, right? Indeed!

However, the world is changing fast. The digital world which we have created is changing very fast and some of these changes, I am sure, you wont welcome. The unfortunate truth is that what you have learned to take for granted may be taken away from you to a point that you may have less than you had before the whole digital era, if you even knew such a time.

You bought it. It's yours. Or is it?


When you buy something you own it, right? If you own it, you can do whatever you wish with it, right? You can use it, consume it, create something new with it, destroy it, copy it, or share it. Why would anyone care what you do with your own property. It's yours and its nobody's business whatever the hell you want to do with it, right?

So what the heck is all this piracy business? Oh wait a second with all those excuses you've been taught to believe in. I know what you were going to say anyway: piracy is stealing, if you copy or share without paying or permission the poor artists wont get payed and might even starve. You can't be doing that to him or her, can you? You must pay for every and each copy you make of every single music track or album that you own.

But wait a second, you said "own"? Isn't it that whatever you "own" is *yours* to do with as you please? Well yes but... this is different... Let's see how different it really is. You go to the CD store and buy a CD with around 13 tracks made by an artist whose music you adore. When you come back home you put it in a CD player to listen to it, but you also rip it on your computer so that it is nicely available in the current music library that you have conveniently compiled in there so that you don't have to pop the CD in every time you want to listen to it. What you did, however, was make a copy. You have done something which is legally protected under the copyright law, but because copyright law has certain exceptions to "fair uses" that it allows it was fine for you to make this copy. In fact, it would be fine if you made another few copies for backup. Now you invite some friends over and they listen to these new music tracks that you've bought and ask you if you could copy it to them.

ALARM GOES OFF!!!

What are you doing? You are breaking the law? You are starving poor artists!? You are "pirating", you thief! But but.. he is your friend you say? How can you say no to your friend. You don't want to act like a jerk to him. Everybody does it anyway.

Isn't that interesting? Everybody breaks the law? OMG. Something must be wrong here, very wrong. At this point I've gotta pose a question. Is there an alternative way? Is there a way for you to share music with your friends without breaking the law or feeling bad about starving poor artists? As a matter of fact there is! You see, there are a number of music artists making quite some cool music which legally allow you to share it with your friends, even remix it. They are happy about it because they are either doing it for the love of music or have found an alternative business model to not starve. They get popular on the internet to a point where they can actually sell some concert tickets, nicely boxed CDs or T-Shirts for their fans. Some even accept donations where fans crazy about them just couldn't resist being the ones mentioned in their donations list. Isn't that cool? Sure is!

Free Software *you* own!


But you may be surprised to see where this whole idea of free, yet commercially viable music distribution is coming from. It comes from the world of software. Yes, it was some weird looking, but extremely cool, though stubborn guy who some decades ago thought it was wrong not to be able to control what runs on your own computer, the thing you *own*, the thing you *payed for*, just as with music. He was *so* stubborn that he actually went on creating a whole new operating system by himself which would be free for anyone who makes a copy of it to run on his own computer to control as you wish. Lucky enough, there was a number of people who dugg the whole idea and decided to contribute. Imagine that, my friend, this free operating system project grew into a whole movement we now know as the Free Software movement. This guy, which is known as Richard Matthew Stallman (or RMS for short), created a copyright license which legally gives you the right to control your own copy of software. This license, a legal document of permissions, terms and conditions, grants and protects the four rights, that is freedoms, that he put together as essential for everyone to be able to control his own property (in this case copies of software on your computer): something we call "four freedoms" which are described in a Free Software Definition which defines what is or is not software whose copies you can be in full control of.

This free operating system he wrote was called GNU which is a weird, but to some programmers funny recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix" because the operating system pretty much cloned the way old proprietary powerful UNIX operating system worked, but wasn't actually UNIX. This free OS was later merged with a core, something we call a "kernel" developed by Linus Torvalds and later released as Free Software too. The core is called Linux and the operating system which it formed along with the rest of the GNU OS is now called GNU/Linux, although despite incorrectness, alot of people tend to call it just "Linux". You may have heard of this OS before. It's buzzing this year and how could it not when this operating system has now developed into one of the best, most powerful and even easy to use yet usually FREE operating system which is under YOUR control once it is installed on your computer. Within your knowledge you can change anything you wish on it. It doesn't even have one single common look because you can make it look the way your heart desires. It is as skinable as Winamp (whose equivalent also exists on GNU/Linux). :)

So we have internet, free music which you actually own once you get it (either for money or for free), and Free Software which you actually own once you get it (either for money or for free) which are free as in "freedom" to do whatever the heck you wish to do with it, just the way it is supposed to be. What a great world this is, right? You can chat with your friends, sharing music with them, even remixes of music made by others using a Free operating system and Free Software that you can do whatever you wish with. Even the source code is there should you learn how to program and make it run just the way you want it.

This is roughly a description of what we on this site call a Free Culture, sometimes Libre Culture. A guy who promotes this kind of culture, Lawrence Lessig, also aptly calls it read-write culture because it allows not only for consuming music (and other works of art) without permission of doing anything else with it (such as sharing), but remixing it and sharing it. It's not just one way (we give it to you to consume), but two-way (we give it to you to listen, remix, share and give back). It is not only "read and consume", but "read, listen, use, modify, share and give back". It is the way cooperation works, as something based not on a monologue, but two-way communication. This kind of culture essentially allows you to be yourself (be creative), take control over your own property and your own life and have fun while being what you are!

Not so fast.. Problems ahead!


Unfortunately though, we have to go back to drastic changes we have scratched upon at the beginning of this article. To fully understand the implications I will first have to explain what exactly goes on behind the scenes of the whole problem called "piracy". The truth is that most of your money that you pay for these popular music tracks does not go to the artists, but to the distributor of their music, their record label. They often take more than 50% of all earnings and even higher. The word "piracy" is not coined by artists nor were artists the one who brainwashed all of us into thinking that sharing music means stealing from artists. Even the restrictive terms under which you get the music you buy, are not so often set by the artist, but by the record label in order to extract as much profit from you as possible. Hence they make it illegal for you to share music with your friends, because they fear that if these friends get music from you, they wont buy it from them. Statistics have shown, however, that sharing music actually happens to increase sales and profits becasue music simply gets even more popular when you share than when you don't to a point where people actually want to buy an original boxed version from the record store. The music simply spreads much faster when you share than when you don't and that does affect their business.

However, they don't like not having control over what you do with your property and not only that they launch highly unfair and to a point even illegal lawsuits against a random file sharer, but are now pushing for laws and technologies which will make you comply wether you like it or not. You guessed, we are talking about RIAA here, and its sister association MPAA for movies where the same kinds of problems are increasingly visible. They are pushing for something called "Digital Rights Management" and "Trusted Computing". What is ironic about these names is that it is not about giving you rights or ensuring that you can trust them, but just the opposite. It is about stripping your rights and ensuring that they can trust that you don't have them anymore. How can you have them when DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is actually a technology which will simply make your new Windows operating system, your DVD player, your digital television set, your portable music player, listen to them instead of you. To understand the full scale of restrictions that you are facing in the future I recommend you see this as it is just a sample of what is coming.

There is a way to escape this increasingly dystopian system that they are creating. It is quite simple on the surface, but you will have to be prepared to make some efforts. In the end these efforts will be more than worth it because you may just succeed at escaping into freedom in which you can be yourself, a creative person which you are and take control over your own. You have to consider using GNU/Linux operating system because, unlike Windows XP and Windows Vista it does not contain DRM technology which means that if you have GNU/Linux installed your computer will obey you and not them in every case. The site called Get GNU/Linux dot org will help you get started.

You also have to consider supporting Free Culture, which includes free music you can buy or download and the truly own as your own copies which you can share with others and even remix. Take a look at legal free music downloads page for a goos start. Support these artist because they respect your freedom to own copies of music their create. They don't wish to control whatever you do with the copy you make. They have decided to release it publically and are not so paranoidly afraid of you sharing it with your friends. Actully, many will even encourage it because it spreads their music and inspiration further. You may even decide to donate, buy CDs or merchandise from those who offer it.

In the future, Libervis.com may have a service which will help you find this kind of music more easily so that you can more easily help foster a read-write culture we have described.

And what else to say in the end than to wish you luck in your migration to freedom. Be yourself! Take control and be Free! Don't let anyone spoil all the fun we can have together, creating a culture where all of us can participate!

Thank you
Danijel Orsolic
Libervis Network

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Comments

could use some improvements

 

Wow, that was great other than the following linguistic errors:

  • "Alot" is not a word.
  • "Wether" should be "whether".
  • You use rhetorical questions a little too much.
  • You use exclamations a little too much.
  • "Dugg" should be "dug".
  • "Free Software movement. This guy, which is known as Richard Matthew Stallman (or RMS for short)" should be "Free Software Movement. This guy, Richard Matthew Stallman (or RMS for short)".
  • "It is as skinable as Winamp (whose equivalent also exists on GNU/Linux)" could be done without.
  • For "we on this site call a Free Culture" just put "we on Libervis.com call a Free Culture".
  • The last two paragraphs of the Free Software section should be in a separate section; they don't talk exclusively about Free Software.
  • "brainwashed all of us" should be "brainwashed so many people".
  • "extract as much profit from you as possible" should be
    "extract as much profit from you as possible, even if it means engaging in unethical behavior".
  • In "a random file sharer", there's no need for the "file".
  • In "You guessed, we are", changed the first two words to something else. Not everyone reading this will guess that.
  • "What is ironic about these names is that it is not about giving you rights or ensuring that you can trust them, but just the opposite. It is about stripping your rights and ensuring that they can trust that you don't have them anymore. How can you have them when DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is actually a technology which will simply make your new Windows operating system, your DVD player, your digital television set, your portable music player, listen to them instead of you." uses pronouns so much they become ambiguous at the end. Is "them" rights or the megacorps?
  • Windows is not alone in DRM. Mention OS X.
  • I can tell you were getting tired by the third-to-last paragraph. Reread it starting from there.

should be cleared up

 

This is an excellent article in the intent and content.
However I agree with a_thing. It is a too tedious read. Make shorter sentences, bold out key phrases, organise paragraphs, be more formal (especially in the last paragraphs). Once the article is cleared up it will be ready to be digged and make a truly intersting read.

I am myself thinking seriously about building a short website, similar in form to GetGNULinux, along the lines of what you describe here. More on this soon.

Heh, a_thing you sound like

Heh, a_thing you sound like a teacher, but you have some good suggestions. Admittelly this was one of those "in one breath" articles written naturally and intended to sound natural as natural speech. Some of the percieved irregularities are left there deliberately even.

Anyway, I'll go through it again and make some fixes per your suggestions to make it overall more readable for everyone. Maybe we could resubmit it again after that. Smiling

Thanks guys

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